A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys #review @doubledayuk @MsTamarCohen

“You can’t get away with anything on a ship you know. Someone always finds out.”

So says the glamorous and beautiful Eliza Campbell, one of the first class passengers on board the ocean liner Orontes. It’s 1939 and the Orontes is setting sail for Australia, taking its passengers to a new life and leaving behind the threat of another war in Europe. Among those passengers is Lily Shepherd, trying to leave behind a secret that we get glimpses of throughout the book. On board ship, she quickly makes friends with many of the passengers but her choices don’t all sit easily with other passengers. As the ship makes its five-week voyage towards Australia, Rachel Rhys takes her readers on a completely addictive journey finding out about the passengers, the secrets they are trying to leave behind them and all that happens on the boat and at its various stopping points.

I adored this book and was drawn in from the very intriguing prologue. Who was the mysterious woman being taken off the ship in handcuffs and what had she done? The author has made her book gloriously visual. She paints a vivid picture of the woman leaving the boat: her detailed descriptions made it so easy to visualise the style of the clothing, the searing heat, the excitement of the waiting crowds. She continues this visual style throughout the book evoking the atmosphere and glamour of the era.

I was fascinated by the thought of all these people who wouldn’t normally engage with each other on land, being thrown together in the relatively small confines of the ship. Social and class barriers didn’t seem to matter quite so much, at least not for everyone. It was such an isolated community full of people who would not under normal circumstances associate with each other. The detail of radios being confiscated added to the feeling of a closed off society. The crew did not want the passengers to know if war was declared when they were at sea as it could result in social and political tension, potentially dangerous in such an enclosed environment.

For many of the passengers, travelling to Australia was as much about escaping from their pasts as beginning a new life. “On a boat like this….. everyone is running away from something.”  Lily began to wonder if she had been too trusting of her fellow travellers: “It hasn’t occurred to Lily not to take her fellow passengers at face value.” As everyone’s secrets began to be exposed and the story neared its conclusion there was an almost unbearable sense of tension as I wondered what was going to happen and when the mysterious woman from the prologue would be revealed along with whatever she had done.

A Dangerous Crossing is a wonderful book. It’s glamorous, exciting and mysterious and all the more enthralling for knowing that it was inspired by a memoir of a real voyage to Australia in the 1930s. Although I must add that no deaths took place on that voyage to my knowledge!

My thanks to Alison Barrow for sending me a copy of this book. Dangerous Crossing was published by Doubleday yesterday in hardback and as an ebook. The paperback will follow in August. You can order a copy online here

From the back of the book

Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets …

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own. 

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

Spring Cleaning the TBR #guestpost by Bella Osborne author of Willow Cottage @osborne_bella @AvonBooksUK

Willow Cottage - Part Three: A Spring Affair (Willow Cottage Series) by [Osborne, Bella]

I’m very pleased to be joined by Bella Osborne, author of the Willow Cottage series of books. Part three, A Spring Affair, has been published today by Avon UK and is available to download for only 79p by clicking here. Bella has written a guest post about the kind of spring cleaning I think I should be doing too – spring cleaning the to-be-read pile!

Bella Osborne

Part 3 of Willow Cottage is set in springtime and, for some people, spring is about cleaning. In theory this is a great idea but seeing as we have to keep on top of the cleaning throughout the year, otherwise the dust bunnies mount a rebellion, it doesn’t seem like much fun to add on extra chores just because the daffodils are popping up. So instead I decided to have a look at my To Be Read (TBR) pile and decided to give that a dust off instead.

So here is a list of books I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time but for various reasons** just haven’t managed to get to them.

The Bridges Of Madison County by [Waller, Robert James]

This is on the list because it is my friend’s favourite book and because it is special to her I have been meaning to read it for a while. So this spring I will push it up the TBR list and hopefully be in for a treat.

After You by [Moyes, Jojo]

I completely fell in love with Louisa and Will in Me Before You and was excited to get hold of the sequel when it came out but I just haven’t started it. Perhaps there is a small part of me that wants to leave the characters untouched as it is a very hard thing to do to match a novel as good as Me Before You, I don’t know, I will see if this is the case when I read it.

This is on the list because it was a really big thing at the time. It is one of those books that had a huge amount of publicity a few years ago and everyone said I must read it. I think I may have rebelled a little and not read it simply because everyone was telling me I must, but the time has come to see what all the fuss was about. 

This is definitely my kind of spring cleaning!

What is on your TBR pile?

**By various reasons I mean they have been overtaken on the reading list by impulse book purchases, book club reads, the ‘ooh it’s the latest thing and it’s sooo good you have to read it’ reads, the latest from my favourite authors, as well as my favourite sort of jump to the top of the book pile, a friend’s debut novel.

About A Spring Affair – Willow Cottage Part Three

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a warm, caring and safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

Willow Cottage is part of a serialized novel told in four parts, following the journey of Beth and her new life in the Cotswolds. The full book will be out next this August, but for now, enjoy Willow Cottage seasonally.

#SometimesILie by Alice Feeney #review @alicewriterland @HQStories

Sometimes I Lie: A psychological thriller with a killer twist you'll never forget by [Feeney, Alice]

Sometimes I Lie is a psychological thriller from debut author Alice Feeney which seriously messed with my mind. Amber Reynolds is our main character and, as the book cover says, she is in a coma following a serious car crash. Although she is in a coma, she is very aware of her surroundings and can hear what is going on round about her. She can’t quite remember though what happened to put her in hospital and can only start to piece it together from what she hears the medical staff and her visitors say. Amber is that fascinating kind of character,  an unreliable narrator as her memories start to come back piece by piece. While she is in hospital, the chapters are headed ‘Now’. We also have chapters about ‘Then’ following Amber in the few days leading up to her accident and I have to say I really didn’t like her at all! You see, another reason that Amber can’t be trusted is that she freely admits that she lies. Doubly unreliable then. 

Just to add to the intrigue, there are diary entries from ‘Before’ when the reader learns more about what was going on in Amber’s childhood and I have to say the diary entries don’t portray a particularly likeable or reliable narrator either.

So throughout the book, you are really not sure what you can believe and what is the truth. And that is what makes it such a page turner. Add in lots of twists and turns and your head will be spinning too! There was one particular point in the story when I suddenly realised just how cleverly Alice Feeney has written this book and that I had been reading it all wrong! From that point on, I read with very different understanding. Or so I thought, until the author proved me wrong once again.

Sometimes I Lie is a completely gripping thriller which will have you compulsively turning the pages trying to figure out just what is going on. It will take you by surprise so many times with clever twists and turns right up to the very last chapters. Sure to be a big hit this year.

My thanks to the publishers  HQ Stories for my copy of this book. Sometimes I Lie is published today in paperback and as an e-book. At the time of writing, the e-book is only 99p and I highly recommend you snap it up at such a bargain price. Then again, you may prefer the paperback for the ease of flicking back when you wonder how on earth you have missed certain things! You can order online here: Sometimes I Lie

From the back of the book

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore

3. Sometimes I lie

Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow.

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse #review @mrsamandaprowse

The Idea of You by [Prowse, Amanda]

Whenever I settle down to read an Amanda Prowse book I know that I am going to be absorbed in a wonderful, emotional story for the next few days. As expected, I have spent the weekend completely caught up with the lives of the characters in The Idea of You.

Lucy is an almost forty year old who has very recently met and married the man of her dreams, the rather wonderful Jonah Carpenter. With the biological clock ticking, they decide to try for a family but things don’t go as they had hoped and they suffer disappointment after disappointment in their quest to become parents. To add to everything Lucy is trying to cope with, she has to deal with Jonah’s teenage daughter from his first marriage coming to stay for the school summer holidays.

Amanda Prowse has a real talent for creating characters who you can completely identify with. She writes about ordinary people in situations so many people will have experienced. As is made clear throughout the book, many women will experience the heartache of not being able to conceive or will suffer miscarriage. There is often no reason and this can be so hard to deal with.  My heart went out to Lucy as it seemed everywhere she went she was surrounded by women with children, women expecting children or shops full of baby things. Added to that, all the comments made thoughtlessly, insensitively or inadvertently by friends and family made her feel so awful and yet unable to talk about it.

I was particularly moved by the poignant heartfelt letters Lucy writes to the child she hopes is yet to come. I was especially touched by one letter when she thinks of the things she will miss if she doesn’t have a child: their graduation, their marriage, soothing them if they are upset, becoming a grandparent. She longs not just for her own child but for all the possibilities that child could bring.

The Idea of You is a wonderfully warm read. There is heartbreak but it is beautifully balanced with hope and happiness. Amanda Prowse has once again written a most touching and uplifting book and I loved it.

My grateful thanks to Amanda and Simeon Prowse for offering me a copy of this book. The Idea of You is published by Lake Union Publishing today. You can order a copy online here: The Idea of You

From the back of the book

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…

Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all?

The Song of the Stork by Stephan Collishaw #review @scollishaw @legend_press #legend100

The Song of the Stork by [Collishaw, Stephan]

The Song of the Stork is a relatively short but very powerful story of survival against all odds during World War Two. Yael is a 15 year old Jewish girl in Lithuania who has been forced to flee for her life when the Germans raided her village. Finding herself alone, she seeks refuge with Aleksei who is mute and very much distrusted by his community. Together these two outsiders grow closer and support each other through a harsh winter until once more the Germans come and Yael is forced to find another place of safety, this time with a Jewish partisan group sheltering in the forest.

This book is beautifully, hauntingly written as the devastation of the villages and the landscapes as well as personal devastation is evocatively described. I found it took me a while to get involved with the story but once I was emotionally invested in the well-being of Yael, I couldn’t put it down. For me the strongest part of the book was when Yael was living with the partisans in the forest and in the face of danger began to find hidden strengths that she didn’t know she had.

The author has vividly described the random cruelty and savagery of war. He brings home strongly the immense courage of those who did help and shelter Jewish people during the war at tremendous personal risk. I cannot imagine the fear and the bravery which must have been felt by both those being sheltered and those who were helping. It made me question whether I would have been brave enough to stand up for what was right and I suspect, like many, the answer is probably not.

Without giving away the ending, I felt there was much unresolved. However, I suspect this reflects the truth that for many Jewish refugees, there were many questions after the war and that they just didn’t know what had happened to so many people.  I found Yael’s thoughts particularly poignant: “…all the absences fell upon her. All the worlds that had been taken. All the lives that had gone……The towns unpeopled. Histories unwritten.” And yet, it is not a completely desolate ending as she realises “It hasn’t gone…..they did not manage to completely destroy our world.”

Haunting, moving and harrowing, The Song of the Stork shows both the worst and the best of humanity in this powerful novel.

My thanks to Lucy Chamberlain of Legend Press to for welcoming me to the #Legend100 Club and sending me a copy of this book. The Song of the Stork was published on 1st March in paperback and as an e-book. You can order a copy online here: The Song of the Stork

From the back of the book

Fifteen-year-old Yael is on the run. The Jewish girl seeks shelter from the Germans on the farm of the village outcast. Aleksei is mute and solitary, but as the brutal winter advances, he reluctantly takes her in and a delicate relationship develops.

As her feelings towards Aleksei change, the war intrudes and Yael is forced to join a Jewish partisan group fighting in the woods.

Torn apart and fighting for her life, The Song of the Stork is Yael’s story of love, hope and survival. It is the story of one woman finding a voice as the voices around her are extinguished.

#CoverReveal Just For The Holidays by @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK

You know how I said a couple of weeks ago that I don’t very often do cover reveals? Well, here is another I couldn’t resist being part of, because I have loved all of this author’s books! Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft will be published by Avon in e-book and in paperback on 18th May. You can already pre-order it and the Kindle pre-order price is just £1.99. As you can see below it’s such a pretty cover, featuring an idyllic looking scene in France but for Leah, her holiday is anything but idyllic! More about the book is below and I can’t wait to read it!

Just for the Holidays

 

The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

 

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

 

Kelly Lacey #BloggerInTheSpotlight @lovebooksgroup

Kelly

For the first time in ages I have a Blogger in the Spotlight, the lovely Kelly from Love Books Group. Thanks for agreeing to be part of my Blogger in the Spotlight feature Kelly. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?

I am Kelly and I am 37, I have had a very varied life. I have lived in America, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  I have three little fur-babies. I am currently back at home looking after my mum who had three strokes.  I love learning from books. Even if it’s a chick-lit easy read. I still think we can learn from every book. 

I have run a Facebook Book group for 2 years. As from January this year I decided to make it a priority and also started my blog LoveBooksGroup and Twitter @Lovebooksgroup

What books/authors did you enjoy as a child?

Judy Blume and Laura Ingalls Wilder were  huge influences.

What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I love being able to talk about books and set my thoughts free.

Tell me about your blog – sell yourself!

With my blog you get an honest heartfelt review.  I love learning about the person behind the book, just as much as I enjoy the book.  I like connecting with readers and offering them wonderful prizes to win in my raffles. My Blog is my everything at the moment and it’s very important to me.

What’s your favourite book you’ve reviewed in the past year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose.

What are you reading just now? 

The Joyce Girl by [Abbs, Annabel]

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

I didn’t know what that was, so I googled – LOL!   A Prayer For Owen Meany

A Prayer For Owen Meany by [Irving, John]

Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?

I would like to see The  Confessions Of Stella Moon By Shelley Day. I am stumped by the dream cast because in my head Stella is so specific.

The Confession of Stella Moon by [Day, Shelley]

How can people follow your blog or connect with you on social media?

LoveBooksGroup Blog

@Lovebooksgroup

Also my FB Blog Page – https://www.facebook.com/LoveBooksGrp/

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

I think it would have to be somebody fun, maybe Hermione from Harry Potter then I get to meet Dobby The House Elf .